In Steven Covey’s book, First Things First, he uses an analogy about rocks in a bucket to explain time management. When I heard this story, it enabled me to see just how simple prioritizing can be … both to do and to mess up.
The story goes: you’ve got big rocks, small rocks, sand, and water. The big rocks represent your top priorities. The small rocks, sand, and water represent the lesser priorities, respectively.
You fill the bucket first with the big rocks to ensure that they are in place. Then, you add the small rocks to fill in the crevices that the large rocks did not fill. Next, adding the sand, this fits around the small cracks that are still left. Even after adding all of these different size rocks, there is still room in the bucket, which the water in turn can fill.
Basically, it’s not about how much you can fit into your schedule but about making sure the most important things go in first.
If you put the sand and the water in first, then the big rocks don’t fit. As a result, your priorities fall to the way side. This analogy has completely transformed how I think about weekly planning.
Evaluation is a big part of living intentionally. When God created the world, there is something He did at the end of each day that I think we far too often overlook.
God saw and declared it was good (ref Genesis 1).
To see something means you actually have to look! To declare something as good you have to evaluate what you’ve done!
God went over His work to make sure it was complete and perfect.
Therefore, when I do my weekly planning, I like to complete a short evaluation before I dive in.
In my eBook, Live for Him: A Grace-Filled Look at Planning, I walk you through this process and go a little more in depth. I also give you a printable with questions to ask yourself each week. A free version of this printable can be found here.
Evaluating how I did the previous week helps me to be sure I make changes in the coming week that align with my God-given priorities. My weekly evaluation is a time that I can do a quick hard stop. It stops the cycle of misaligned priorities and helps me to be intentional with what I put on my schedule in the coming week.
2. Review Mission Statement and Goals
I walk you through how to creative a mission statement for your life and set goals based on this mission in my eBook, Live for Him: A Grace-Filled Look at Planning.
Each week, take time to review your God-given purpose and check in with your goals.
3. Do a brain dump
Next, pull out your master calendar and to-do list. Review your master project list and add to it anything that comes to mind. This is your weekly brain dumping session. Get everything out of your brain!
4. Make a plan
So much of your week has already been planned for you because you’ve completed your yearly, quarterly, and monthly planning. These mini planning sessions are adding up to make a huge impact on your week!
When making your plan for the week, I like to start with my big rocks – my top priorities.
Then, I add in work needs.
- Writing time
- And so on and so forth!
Finally I add in the additional things like church events, Bible studies, play dates, and anything else that crops up in life.
We can’t do everything!
Every need is not our calling. And I would add – every want is not necessarily something we should make happen.
Just because our Sunday School class is doing a get together, it doesn’t mean I have to be there. Just because there are ball games every single week for nieces and nephews, it doesn’t mean I have to be at every single one of them.
Do I want to be? Absolutely!
But sometimes we have to say “No” to really good things to say “Yes” to the best things.
If everything makes it’s way into your schedule, that’s okay. But it doesn’t have to. You can choose to live with more margin if that’s something you desire. You are the only one who can make that choice though.
Weekly planning is as simple as that!
Depending on how much time you put into your other planning we’ve been talking about, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete.
Extra Tip: Before I get started with weekly planning (or any planning session) I set a time limit for myself. Setting a time limit helps me to stay on task and not get lost in details.
Did you know that I turned this series into an eBook (and added even more to it?)